Weekly writing #8, Metacognition –Jane

My metacognitive summary in 135 characters...

Metacognition: I’m in school.  A topic is presented. I think. I research. I ask questions. I struggle. I get it. Aha, learning! Repeat.

Like most of my classmates the unit plan assignment in our class has been more difficult than I expected. There is so much to think about when putting together a plan for learning — who are the students, how can I address their learning at many levels, what is the content, what materials and resources will best introduce the content, how will I assess learning and give feedback? To consider it all at once is just too much. But we have approached the assignment in manageable pieces over a period of time and each time I followed the path of my “tweet” above– A topic is presented. I think. I research. I ask questions. I struggle. I get it. Aha, learning.

I followed the path for addressing this blog post, too. I did some research on metacognition and discovered the following key points. Metacognition is thinking about thinking; it involves tracking one’s own learning progress; it is understanding how one makes meaning of things.

Thinking about thinking. My thinking during the unit plan assignment has been varied but predictable. I began each part of the assignment not knowing where to begin; scratching down ideas, flipping back to the textbook and wondering if I really understood the task. But eventually, every week, I settled into a methodical approach. Wrestling my ideas into labeled charts, a linear concept map and paragraphs with headings. I’m not comfortable with ideas floating around without a logical place for them to fit–everything has a place. This describes the process of my thinking, mental housekeeping for information.

Tracking my learning progress. I recognize that there are people in the world who have great ideas. Sometimes these are NOT the people who put the idea into practice. Idea people sometimes need pragmatic, task oriented people to turn an idea into a tangible product. I’m one of those “worker bees”. With that said, I understand better why I struggle at the beginning of every assignment but relax when I figure out the work to be done. For me, Ideas = hard. Work = easy. In education, learners can’t just skip the idea phase, and so I keep digging deep to create original thoughts.  I can honestly say grappling with idea generation is a challenge that has stretched my brain over the course of the semester. Representing my learning progress on a graph would show the “ideas” line and the “work” line coming in closer alignment.

Understanding how I make meaning of things. I’m learning that I make meaning of things by relating them to other things I know about. When someone tells a story, I think of a related story. When I read or hear about a new topic, I look for a connection to an old one. During the unit plan assignment, I’ve been thinking back to my experience in ED 601 when I completed the survey assignment myself. I think about other surveys I have taken and my opinion of them. I take my new learning combined with my previous knowledge and form a new concepts — then I have to put those new concepts in their place! To go back and retrieve this new information, it has to be correctly stored in the first place.

2 thoughts on “Weekly writing #8, Metacognition –Jane

  1. Hi Jane,

    It was a pleasure to read your thoughtful, honest, and introspective post. Your comments about being an idea person vs. a worker bee were thought provoking. I immediately had to think about myself.

    I have a couple of different ways of approaching things. If it something I dread, like doing taxes, I sometimes just lean into it and start driving until I come out the other side. With some tasks I find it peaceful just to work and be a ‘drone’. Splitting wood or picking berries, these are great drone tasks. I can let my mind go and chug away. But then it occurred to me that it is during these types of tasks that I have some of my best ideas, best moments of insight – the thunderbolt of constructive thinking finally arcing across my synapses. I pretty much live for those moments.

    I was watching an old documentary about the mathematician that solved Fermat’s Last Theorem, a mathematical theorem that had puzzled mathematicians for several centuries. It was a Nova program. It really made me reflect on thinking. The man who solved it basically isolated himself for seven years so he could noodle around without interruption. He would go for walks sometimes to stimulate his mind, but basically lived more or less isolated and cloistered. I think often times we live with too much mental noise to find those quiet moments where we can make new connections.

    I also found connection with how you make meaning of things – through connecting them to other things that you already know about. I think that is basic to how we all learn and well said. How to retrieve, now that is the question. That seems to get more and more challenging for me.

    I enjoyed your post.

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